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DVD Review: “Robert Plant & The Band of Joy: Live from the Artists Den”

The golden god’s locks may be grayer, and the lines on his face may be from age rather than an excessive lifestyle, but Robert Plant remains the ever searching, adventurous musician that he was during the glories of his youth, as the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. This is evident in this superb new DVD, a recording taken from the acclaimed PBS series, Live from the Artists Den. Fronting his latest group, The Band of Joy, Plant explores the roots of American country, blues and rock, performing several tracks from his most recent album, Band of Joy, and choosing some of his better known Zeppelin songs, molding them into a sound that’s appropriate for the band. Additionally, he pulls out a couple of deep cuts from his solo catalog and gives them a nice dusting off.

The Band of Joy includes Americana notables Buddy Miller on guitar, the luminous Patty Griffin on harmony vocals and acoustic guitar, and multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott providing flourishes in the gaps. The rhythm section is strong, with Byron House on bass and Marco Giovino on drums and percussion. While it’s Plant’s name that’s largest on the marquee and the obvious draw for the audience, Plant is no prima donna and gladly shares the spotlight with his fellow band members. He calls the Band of Joy a family and goes out of his way to make sure the crowd knows this. Miller, Griffin and Scott each receive solo spotlights during the concert and Plant fades into the background, literally standing in the shadows, while the other take center stage. He also contributes some mean harp playing to back up his band mates.

While the concert was condensed for the TV audience (a set list included in the DVD packaging shows this), there is still a remarkable selection of songs to listen to and watch. Highlights include a countrified “House of the Holy,” a rockabilly, “Rock and Roll” (the Zeppelin classic), a stunning version of “Down to the Sea” from Plant’s underrated 1993 album, Fate of Nations, and an livelier interpretation of “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” than the one that appears on Band of Joy.

An interview with Plant is a bonus feature on the DVD. The singer has a gift for speaking one on one with people. He always opens up and has such a rich history of music in his head that it’s always a pleasure to listen to him.

Sound good to you? Well, I have a copy of the DVD available for a giveaway to one lucky reader. Send you name and address to by Friday, 6 PM PT and your name will be entered to win. Winner will be chosen at random and notified by email. Good luck!

Robert Plant & the Band of Joy: Live from the Artists Den is available to purchase at the Artists Den store: